A collaborative robotics and social care event has brought together innovators and end-users in a move aimed to provide a major step forward in the assisted living technology market.
Highlights included connecting multiple home appliances with a single in-ear switch, and new concepts for using technology to help support social isolation.
The event, organised by The National Robotarium based at Heriot-Watt University, aimed to prototype new technology and accelerate technical designs to tackle multiple assisted living challenges.
Dr Mauro Dragone, an assistant professor and director of the Robotic Assisted Living Testbed (RALT) at the National Robotarium, co-organised the event.
He explained: “The National Robotarium’s mission is to translate cutting-edge research into technologies to create disruptive innovation in an expanding global market, delivering sustainable economic benefit to Edinburgh, the UK and beyond.”
He said that the event had used the concept of a user-centred living lab, involving a range of stakeholders to define research priorities and questions for health and social care technology and to accelerate innovation in the sector.
“Our assisted living lab is set up to operate like a real flat with a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom,” he said.
“Throughout the home, we have connected sensors, domestic robots and other assisted living technology to help care practitioners, designers and end users to test the usefulness of assisted living technologies.”
A line up of 14 international speakers inspired participants throughout the week with talks providing multiple perspectives on key aspects for assistive technology, from social science and cyber security to the Internet of Things and ethics for healthcare.
The university said that successes from the week’s event included demonstrating how the ‘Earswitch’ can be used to operate multiple devices using an ear muscle alone.
This could significantly improve the independence of thousands of individuals with a range of assisted living needs.
The Earswitch was created by Somerset-based primary care practitioner Dr Nick Gompertz, who worked with Thomas Gillett, a PhD student at Heriot-Watt University, to improve the accuracy of the switch and to connect it to existing assistive devices and automation frameworks.
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